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FAA Glossaries

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This is why you always land with an hour of fuel.

Runway closure
The single-engine 1979 Cessna Skyhawk came to rest on the embankment in grass beside the runway, across from Thread Lane next to Buckley Road.

According to the flight-tracking website flightaware.com, the plane had just returned from a 2-1/2-hour circle trip to Bakersfield when the rough landing happened at around 1:30 p.m.

Don’t know how long the runway was closed but if you only had the ½ hour VFR minimum you’d be cutting it real close if you needed to divert to PRB or SMX since in my Cherokee it’s about 20 minutes flying to either one.

Fogged in
Another reason to have enough fuel to fly to your alternate and then ½ hour if you might get fogged in.

Weather going bad

A new pilot in the Cherokee landed at 8:29 so he just made it in before he would have to go to the alternate.

FYI Special VFR requires 1 mile visibility but no ceiling restriction. Sunset was 8:13 yesterday so it wouldn’t be available to anyone without an instrument rating since you need an instrument rating and an IFR capable aircraft between sunrise and sunset.

That’s a great point. I learned my lesson on fuel when flying back from Tucson. The airport I chose for fuel (to land with 1 hour remaining) wasn’t possible due to a 25kt 80 degree crosswind. The next closest airport was 30 mins away. It sure got me nervous while flying to my alternate knowing that if landing there didn’t work, I’d only have 30 mins of fuel remaining and a 15-20 minute flight to the next closest airport. Fortunately, my alternate had a low crosswind component and good weather.

On my flight home from Van Nuys yesterday, I bit the bullet and stomached the $8/gallon gas and filled the tanks full knowing my plan to land in SLO was likely not going to happen. SMX was IFR, so Paso was my alternate. After the Tucson fuel scare, I made sure I had enough fuel to land in King City as a backup with an hour of fuel remaining. That one fuel “scare” (even though I landed with the legal minimum fuel remaining) was a good lesson for me.

My new personal minimum is to assume I’m going to have to land at my alternate airport, and land with at least 1 hour fuel remaining. If it’s night time, or less than stellar weather, 1.5 hours of fuel remaining upon landing at my alternate.

Fuel management is no joke.

An older article discussed fuel management and has quotes from some notables.

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